The Bigger Picture

The origins of Western Heights

The origins of the Western Heights fortifications were around 1780 when this country was waging war simultaneously with France and the American colonies. The order of the day was earthwork batteries which seem to have been constructed by 1784 along with the beginnings of what we now know as the Citadel. These works were under the charge of Lieutenant Thomas Hyde Page who had been instructed by Lord Townsend, Master General of Ordnance to build simple and cheap fieldworks in order to bring Dover’s defences up to a state of readiness together with other modernisation programmes being carried out at Dover Castle, Moat’s Bulwark, Archcliffe Fort, Guildford Battery, North Battery, Townsend Battery and finally, Amherst Battery.

Work on Western Heights finished in 1783 leaving the defences in an unfinished state but the trace of the intended works had by then already been marked out on the hillside.

New war in 1793

 Following the outbreak of war with France in 1793 huge sums of money were spent on updating the country's defences and bearing in mind Dover’s strategic importance at the time, about 500,000 were spent on the various defences of Dover between war breaking out and the end of hostilities at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. This was a lot of money then. 

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From Illustrated London News, 1855

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Invasion ?

Although a real threat of invasion by the French didn’t exist until 1803, a memorandum on the defence of Southern England was drawn up by the Secretary of State for War, Viscount Melville in 1798:

.........The possession to an enemy of Dover Castle and of the opposite entrenched Western Height and of the town and port, fortified in the manner in which he would soon accomplish and defended by 6 or 7000 men would establish a sure communication with France and could not be easily wrested from his hands. The conquest of this alone would be to him a sufficient object could he arrive with means of immediately attacking it. Its preservation to us is most important.......

From 1803 several invasion ‘panics’ produced some of the finest and most impressive military architecture in Europe producing a system of lines, or dry ditches, totaling some 5 miles.

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Above Thumbnail is Aerial View of Drop Redoubt & Grand Shaft Barracks Site

It has Good Detail but Will Take a While to Load Up

Taken in May 1972 by Dover Express


 More to follow...